Gallup: Majority still says gov’t does too much

posted at 11:21 am on September 17, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Gallup provides a good news/bad news scenario in its poll of the day.  The good news is that a majority of Americans think government tries to do too much and that more should be left to the private sector.  The bad news?  The gap has sharply declined recently, and is now at roughly the same level as in the 2008 election:

A majority of Americans (54%) continue to believe the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses, although that is down from the record high of 61% earlier this summer. About four in 10 Americans (39%) say the government should do more to solve the nation’s problems.

Only a few times in Gallup’s 20-year history of asking this question has a higher percentage of Americans said the government should do more to solve the nation’s problems than said the government is doing too much. Two of these were in the fall of 1992 and again in early 1993, as Bill Clinton ran for and took office as president. Another was in October 2001, just after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and at a time when Americans were especially supportive of government and its efforts to help the nation recover from the attacks and retaliate against those who were responsible.

Americans have been most likely to say the government was attempting to do too much during the middle years of the Clinton administration, and in recent years during the Obama administration.

Here’s the graph, which shows the relative position of today’s result to the historical track:

Similarly, the poll shows a decline in the number of people who think the federal government has too much power.  It’s still a majority and a solid 11-point gap at 51/40 — which is virtually identical to 2008′s 52/40.  Even after the bailouts that took place after that poll result, that dropped to 50/42 in early 2009 before peaking at 59/33 for the 2010 midterms.

The partisan tracks are depressingly predictable — when one considers who was President, and when.  From 2003-8, more Democrats thought the federal government had too much power, peaking at 57% in 2006-7.  Republicans generally didn’t, only getting above 41% in late 2007 and into a majority in 2008.  Ever since Obama’s election, the Republican response has been in the 70s, while the highest Democratic response has been 32% over the last four years.

Whither the independents, then?  Gallup doesn’t provide any historical data on this demographic, but today’s result is at least somewhat salutary.  Independents are far more likely to object to the amount of intervention conducted by the federal government, 62/29, far outstripping the electorate as a whole.  Only 24% of Democrats now agree, while Republicans now hit 82%.  The distrust of federal power still looks like a potent force in American politics, thankfully.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

We all belong to the government!

mrscullen on September 17, 2012 at 11:25 AM

Poll only reflects that a declining number of people are paying attention.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on September 17, 2012 at 11:27 AM

Like all elections liberals winning depends on how well they see the lie, conservatives winning depends on how well they sell the truth.

Make the sale.

Speakup on September 17, 2012 at 11:27 AM

Gallup you say? Now, everybody that believes the mathematical garbage coming from Gallup please see me, I have several bridges to sell.

rplat on September 17, 2012 at 11:28 AM

“All your moneys, are belong to us.”

-Gubmint

portlandon on September 17, 2012 at 11:28 AM

see=sell

Speakup on September 17, 2012 at 11:28 AM

The problem is that the sow keeps growing more teats.

OldEnglish on September 17, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Poll only reflects that a declining number of people are paying attention.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on September 17, 2012 at 11:27 AM

Not only. It also reflects the increasing number of people on the government dole.

HoustonRight on September 17, 2012 at 11:33 AM

The real finding of polls like this:

Majority still says gov’t does too much (for other people)

Nobody complains about what government gives them.

BocaJuniors on September 17, 2012 at 11:35 AM

How can our Government ever do too much for us, if we belong to them in the first place ??

Hmmmm….. something is amiss here.

FlaMurph on September 17, 2012 at 11:36 AM

Doomed by the media…doomed by the big cities…doomed by the changing racial demographics…doomed by big guv politicians…doomed by the teat suckers…doomed by the ignorant/indifferent citizens of this country…

A country I no longer recognize…

hillsoftx on September 17, 2012 at 11:37 AM

A majority of Americans (54%) continue to believe the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses, although that is down from the record high of 61% earlier this summer.

What the hell has changed re:government intrusion between “earlier this summer” and now? Are people retarded?

Spannerhead on September 17, 2012 at 11:37 AM

We all belong to the government!

Not entirely, yet, but Obama has people working on it and needs another term to seal the deal.

hawkeye54 on September 17, 2012 at 11:40 AM

OT–Rassy: Romney up by 2

hillsoftx on September 17, 2012 at 11:40 AM

But, but Obama leads in the polls…

From the American Spectator, the Problem with Obama’s Polls:

Do not let these polls fool you. In 1980 similar polls showed Jimmy Carter leading the Old Cowboy almost to the very end. Carter was ahead of Governor Ronald Reagan by 4 points in late September, by 8 points in October, and the Gallup polls had him ahead of Reagan by 6 points in last days of the election. Reagan won by 9 points, sweeping 44 states. In 1988 Governor Dukakis at one point led Vice President George H. W. Bush by 17 points. He lost by almost 8 points.

Charlemagne on September 17, 2012 at 11:41 AM

Are people retarded?

Spannerhead on September 17, 2012 at 11:37 AM

2008 is the latest research: 53%.

hillsoftx on September 17, 2012 at 11:41 AM

Are people retarded?

Hmmm, after years of exposure to leftist indoctrination in school, reinforced by leftist propaganda in media and entertainment….I wonder?

hawkeye54 on September 17, 2012 at 11:42 AM

Similarly, almost twice as many label themselves as conservative than liberal. Good news is that the Romney campaign is now going to focus on more then just the economy, and is framing the election in terms of the “status quo versus change.” Ah, we are change this time, but are we hope?
This election is a choice between the left and the right. Or, we can change the terms of Romney’s strategy pronouncement from “status quo” to “big govt,” and change “change” to “smaller govt.” Do we want a smaller less intrusive govt, or a bankrupting big govt that is out of control and has gone wild?
KISS, simply put: do we want to rein in the out of control big govt, or not???
But it’s important to frame this election in terms of a simple profound question where we win the answer. Remove the haze and ambiguity from the peoples’ mental space. And the primary question for the voters to take into the ballot box this time is not “am I better off than I was 4 years ago.” That worked in the past. But it misses the heart of the matter. Now the question is, to reiterate: do we want this big out of control govt, or not?

anotherJoe on September 17, 2012 at 11:44 AM

The Democrat’s may think and want us all to believe that we all belong to the government but apparently the majority of Americans haven’t gotten with the program yet. Well, I don’t accept the premises that we all belong to the government and will steadfastly refuse to conform to that ideology. So, I guess according to William (Bill) Ayers I’ll just have to look forward to seeing ya’ll in the gulag… Don’t forget to bring your potato…

The Obamanation Administration Lies while the Middle East Burns.

SWalker on September 17, 2012 at 11:45 AM

Charlemagne on September 17, 2012 at 11:41 AM

Do not underestimate the public lobotomy performed since those elections by public education, alphabet channels, and the Kardashian’s family.

Archivarix on September 17, 2012 at 11:46 AM

Government to all US citizens…’We own you’…

PatriotRider on September 17, 2012 at 11:46 AM

SWalker on September 17, 2012 at 11:45 AM

The big danger for the Left is that the more aggressive they are in their attempts to subjugate us, the more aggressive will be our resistance. It is the nature of man.

Charlemagne on September 17, 2012 at 11:47 AM

Archivarix on September 17, 2012 at 11:46 AM

Oh, I know. The exponential growth of mindless TV programming boggles the mind. I believe it is truly having a dulling effect on the American mind.

Charlemagne on September 17, 2012 at 11:48 AM

Two questions for the voters out there:-

1) Would you like to earn some money?

2) Would you like to keep most of it?

OldEnglish on September 17, 2012 at 11:49 AM

The big danger for the Left is that the more aggressive they are in their attempts to subjugate us, the more aggressive will be our resistance. It is the nature of man.

Charlemagne on September 17, 2012 at 11:47 AM

I doubt that anything short of organized mass murders will move Americans to the street these days. We’ve become a nation of law abiding pvssies, which is pretty much a delayed death sentence in the land of non-law-abiding rulers.

Archivarix on September 17, 2012 at 11:49 AM

Definitely not enough. I want the govt to wipe my butt for me and plant a bunch of citrus trees around the house.

ahlaphus on September 17, 2012 at 11:51 AM

Hmmm, after years of exposure to leftist indoctrination in school, reinforced by leftist propaganda in media and entertainment….I wonder?

hawkeye54 on September 17, 2012 at 11:42 AM

I mean, the only logical explanation for the percentage dip is that people feel like gov’t is less intrusive now than it was a few months ago. I guess people don’t make judgment calls with their brains anymore…

Spannerhead on September 17, 2012 at 11:52 AM

We’re battling a wildfire here that is close to homes. (our go bag is ready) The first letter to the editor in our local paper was from somebody out of state saying something to the effect of “looks like you want big govt now to fight your fire” 1) Thanks for the compassion. 2) Nice strawman. Nobody is arguing for NO GOVT, but rather appropriately limited government. These people just don’t get it.

Jackalope on September 17, 2012 at 11:53 AM

The problem however is that everyone has their own definition of ‘too much’, and they don’t want the government to divest itself of involvement in their pet projects. They want their government student tuition assistance, their environmental project, their county’s porkbarrel earmark, their government motors bailout, their GM-food labeling laws, their Obamacare, etc.

It’s all that other big government they don’t want. Until even the most hardcore conservatives agree to give up their pet project so government can get smaller, the cancer will grow.

slickwillie2001 on September 17, 2012 at 11:54 AM

Gallup: Majority still says gov’t does too much

But still favors President Big Government Leftist over Romney by a slim margin, if the polls can be believed.

This make no sense at all.

farsighted on September 17, 2012 at 11:58 AM

This make no sense at all.

farsighted on September 17, 2012 at 11:58 AM

That is, unless it means the majority likes what Big Government does for them, but thinks it does to much for everyone else.

farsighted on September 17, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Do not fear…. as the current school kids move on though school and into adult hood, they will be taught properly on how Uncle Sam will take care of them.

I really think too many conservatives are fighting the wrong battle, the battle should be with the judicial, which decides if something is constitutional, and within the schools where kids are taught awesome things like Global warming and how the feds can take care and fix any problems.

Usually the second group wakes up after so many years after hitting the legal age… because they then are trying to make things work in life without someone telling them what to do and how to live their lives… sadly, that gap can be big and of course much damage can be done in those 20 years.

watertown on September 17, 2012 at 12:05 PM

What could have changed between early summer and now? Given all of the nonsense going on, you would expect the opposite result. Are there any internals that would explain such a drastic shift?

AZfederalist on September 17, 2012 at 12:05 PM

OT Please excuse me but I just got this on email and hadn’t seen it before. I think most everyone will get a kick out of it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=tE0M9R1YXH0

tj4osu on September 17, 2012 at 12:07 PM

Socialism is inevitable, until it runs out of your money, then it’s tyranny time.

Schadenfreude on September 17, 2012 at 12:07 PM

“FUND YOUR UTOPIA WITHOUT ME™” — HA’s wonderful Resist We Much

Starve the looters, who only exploit the moochers, keeping them ignorant, solely for votes.

One day the moochers will wake up and pitchfork the looters.

Schadenfreude on September 17, 2012 at 12:09 PM

I believe the government should do more to get out of the way of free markets.

Maybe people didn’t understand the question.

LoganSix on September 17, 2012 at 12:09 PM

I want my hover chair like the people in the movie Wall-E! I want to talk to the person next to me by only facing forward and looking at a pop-up screen! I want to change the color of my clothing by pressing a button! I want a pool in the mezzanine! I want a plant that grows pizza! In other words, I want MORE government!!

/sarc off

Vntnrse on September 17, 2012 at 12:12 PM

Romney’s inability to describe and promote free market principles is seriously harming this country’s prospects.

besser tot als rot on September 17, 2012 at 12:37 PM

Are people retarded?

Hmmm, after years of exposure to leftist indoctrination in school, reinforced by leftist propaganda in media and entertainment….I wonder?

hawkeye54 on September 17, 2012 at 11:42 AM

Somebody needs to educate the populace on free market principles. The media fails to do it. The government schools fail to do it. Where are the people supposed to be exposed to free market principles and solutions? If only we had someone every four years with a bundle of cash and a platform to speak directly to the people who could illustrate to the people how free market solutions are common sense solutions that will get this country moving in the right direction.

besser tot als rot on September 17, 2012 at 12:42 PM

Romney’s inability to describe and promote free market principles is seriously harming this country’s prospects.

besser tot als rot on September 17, 2012 at 12:37 PM

I dislike the man as much as anyone else, but blaming him for the country’s problems is even beyond me.

The reality is that when people were for cutting government, they were under the impression that they could cut foreign aid, farm subsidies, exon/mobile tax breaks and a slew of other things and get to fiscal sanity. What happened in the mean time is that they came to realize that those couple billion at most total expenditures are not going to balance the budget, but it would actually require getting rid of their home mortgage deductions, their welfare checks, and many other things they are dependent on the government to provide for them by pointing guns at other people’s head to reliquish to the government to hand out. They are right, people vote pocketbook issues. Not in the way that is good.

astonerii on September 17, 2012 at 12:48 PM

Where are the people supposed to be exposed to free market principles and solutions? If only we had someone every four years with a bundle of cash and a platform to speak directly to the people who could illustrate to the people how free market solutions are common sense solutions that will get this country moving in the right direction.

besser tot als rot on September 17, 2012 at 12:42 PM

They get exposed LATER ON in life. I think I can speak for most here, I for one, buckled down with a life kinda plan in my mid to late 20′s. After a few more years you slowly wake up and realize what is happening around you and WHY. You now have a better understanding on how life works, and then you realize where the problems are. Of course you just voted in 2 or 3 presidential elections by the time you fully wake up, and a lot of damage can be done in that time.

watertown on September 17, 2012 at 12:54 PM

From 2003-8, more Democrats thought the federal government had too much power, peaking at 57% in 2006-7. Republicans generally didn’t, only getting above 41% in late 2007 and into a majority in 2008. Ever since Obama’s election, the Republican response has been in the 70s, while the highest Democratic response has been 32% over the last four years.

I think this statisic speaks volumes about the lack of distinctiveness in our two parties when it comes to size and scope of government. Neither the GOP nor the Dems actuall want smaller government, they just want government enact the laws they want. When they disagree with the policies of the party in power then they proclaim their love of small government, and when the party in power is enacting the laws they agree with then they are perfectly happy with the power of government.

gravityman on September 17, 2012 at 1:01 PM

Where are the people supposed to be exposed to free market principles and solutions? If only we had someone every four years with a bundle of cash and a platform to speak directly to the people who could illustrate to the people how free market solutions are common sense solutions that will get this country moving in the right direction.

besser tot als rot on September 17, 2012 at 12:42 PM

Bush lived off government largess his whole life. That stint with the football team, crony capitalism where the city that sponsors takes all the risk and the team takes all the reward.
McCain lived off the wealth of his wife.
Romney used tax gimmicks and loopholes to help line his pockets, and certainly had a few big ticket items underwritten by government largess.

You have to learn on your own. Educate those you come into contact with. Have a family and teach it to them, one on one and as a family as well. You have to make certain that your vote comes with conditions, if it does not, how can you expect government to represent you?

One of the problems with teaching this to people though is that many are dependent on the government, if not financially, emotionally… From welfare direct payments, to food stamps, rent assistance, to unemployment which is not insurance, as it does not really use risk to determine rates, to company write offs for businesses they are employed in, to title nine, medicare, medicaid, social security, ssdi, ssi, home mortgage interest deduction, making work LOL pay tax credit, child tax credit, to the imagined payoff after filing your tax return, to the peace of mind that comes with knowing there is a cradle to grave welfare system in place to carry you over a lifetime if you just decide to to stop working and earning on your own.

astonerii on September 17, 2012 at 1:08 PM

Gov’t is the problem.

Schadenfreude on September 17, 2012 at 1:15 PM

No doubt this is the post-DOJ suit polling sample of D+13.

TallDave on September 18, 2012 at 11:16 AM